New Substances Detected in Benikoji Supplement Ingredients; Health Ministry Finds More Than Puberulic Acid

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in Tokyo

In the wake of health damage suffered by users of a Kobayashi Pharmaceutical Co. supplement made with benikoji red rice mold, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced Friday that a number of unknown substances have been discovered in the supplement’s ingredients.

Puberulic acid, a natural substance produced from blue mold, had previously been detected, but the announcement pointed to the existence of additional substances.

The ministry is working to identify these substances, which are not normally found in the ingredients of the supplement.

Puberulic acid was detected in some of the ingredients in Kobayashi Pharmaceutical’s investigation. The ministry has received samples of ingredients from the Osaka-based company and analyzed them at the National Institute of Health Sciences in Kawasaki.

As a result, at least two substances, in addition to puberulic acid, were detected in samples manufactured between June and August last year, a period in which the health complaints were concentrated. These substances were not found in products manufactured during other periods. The ministry will continue to identify the substances and investigate the cause of contamination and toxicity.

Five of the supplement users had died and 240 had been hospitalized as of Thursday.